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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Wine Bar @ Solaire




Place:  The Wine Bar @ Solaire
Web-site: Unavailable
Location:  111 First Street, Hudson, Ohio  44236 Google Maps


Quick Blurb:

Great ambiance, delicious food and a selection of wine that will introduce you to a new favourite. A very relaxed atmosphere with friendly staff and great background music. 

Review:

Appearance:
The Wine Bar is located above Solaire’s Spa in the First & Main shopping center of Hudson. I remember the first time going, we were so confused as to how to enter that we almost turned around. Then, we saw what looked like a maintenance door on the side of the building that had a small sign saying the Wine Bar was through there.
After walking up a flight of stairs, you enter and are immediately relaxed. Dim lighting, low volume music in the background, gentle conversation, and an intimate layout around a foyer that looks down into the spa.

Staff:
Always greeted with a smile and the “Please choose any table you like” - very relaxing. We’ve always struck up a conversation with the waiter/ess since day 1. They are rather knowledgeable about the wines on their list and will gladly recommend one to you if you’re out to try something new.

Meal:

Appetizer:
Like most restaurants, they start off with some bread at the table. The bread has a great crust to it (I’m big on bread crust and have never mentioned it before because it’s rare that you get good bread nowadays in restaurants)
Along with the bread, you get a plate with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, a few olives (with seeds, watch out!), some sliced salami and a couple pieces of cheese – yum!
We always go for the bruschetta – my wife believes it’s the best she’s ever had, and I’m not arguing – it is phenomenal. Fresh basil, sweet tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella shaved on top, a little spice from the garlic, and finally drizzled with olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar. I know, sounds like basic ingredients to bruschetta, but for some reason, this tastes so much better than anywhere else we’ve had it.


Entrée:
It had been some time since we were last here and they changed their menu slightly; they now have some dishes on their appetizer list that could easily pass for a main course. My wife chose the scallops from the list and I took the lamb sliders.
Her scallops were cooked with truffle oil – yum! They came with a fresh vegetable medley (I really don’t like the ‘vegetable medley’ phrase, but for lack of a better way to describe it, I’ll use it). A little caviar in the corner was an interesting touch – one that she politely passed on to me. Which I gladly accepted and I enjoyed scooping a bit on the chips I had from my plate. They came with the bottle of truffle oil to the table and left it there in case she wanted to have some more – she didn’t, but it was a nice, unexpected touch.
The lamb sliders were fun; three mini burgers basically. The lamb meat was good – juicy and with that slight gamey flavour. It was served with a side of mustard mayonnaise that I spread on the top; it could have had a bit more mustard flavour for me – a little too ‘mayonnaisey’. The homemade chips were great; but a few were cooked too long and had that burned taste. The pickles that were served on the side were actually cornichons –I eat them at home and in Belgium they are popular, but I hadn’t seen them served in restaurants in the USA before. A nice touch. Oh, and finally I’ll give another shout-out to the tomatoes that night – made me feel like I just plucked it from my own garden.

That said, I don’t know if I’d get the sliders again – they were good, don’t get me wrong, but they were rather basic. Not much seasoning to the meat and the mayonnaise was too plain as well for me. I found myself checking out the scallops with truffle oil.

To give you an idea of what else is on the menu (since you can’t view online), there is a Chilean Sea Bass, Osso Bucco, and a Bone-in steak. Each sound delicious to me!

Desserts:
Mrs. Chocoholic got the lava cake, which she loves, but it didn’t look anything out of the ordinary to me, with the exception of the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies it came with on the side.
Our waitress asked if we liked sorbet, and I said “Yes!” – she said they had freshly made sorbet of a variety of fruits in the back – so I said surprise me. I was given a half of a small pineapple, hollowed out, frozen and filled with the pineapple sorbet. A little cheesy on the presentation, but it still was cool. And, the sorbet was delicious – I wish I could have that every hot summer day.

Drinks:
Wine all around!

We started off trying a Greek wine that is relatively inexpensive: 
2007 Boutari Moschofilero
Friends of ours recommended it as they had it while over in Greece. Very light and fruity, not very complex at all – you can understand why it would be great in the sun of Greece.

I moved onto 2008 Layer Cake Shiraz from Australia as I thought it to be appropriate with lamb sliders. My go-to shiraz is Penfold’s Koonunga Hill – it’s $9.99 a bottle and I use it as a comparison – Layer Cake is much more intense. Deep, deep red colour, slightly heavy feel, but it bursts with flavours of cherries and plums and, believe it or not, for the first time ever, I could identify the ‘chocolate’ taste that people often mention in their reviews. Appropriate with the name I suppose!

Prices:
The wines aren’t cheap, cheapest glass being around $7 but quickly climb. I believe my shiraz was $15 (Do keep in mind that they pour heavy).
The appetizers and our main dishes were very reasonable. The lamb sliders were $12 and the same with the scallops. Contrast that with the Osso Bucco at $40.

Overall Experience:
I really do enjoy going to Solaire. While the prices are on the high side for the wine, they do pour you a big glass and will top it off sometimes. They also will give you a small glass to sip on while they chill your wine. It’s little things like these that keep us coming back. We also enjoy small conversations with our waiter/ess – they are friendly people here.

I’ve read some reviews that have complained about the types of people coming in – wearing shorts, etc. I don’t know why you have to be dressed up in a suit and tie to enjoy a glass of wine and some lamb sliders. What I do enjoy about Soliare is that you have a mix of people coming in. There was an older couple dressed up nicely, we were in jeans and then at the bar itself, there was indeed a couple in casual clothes – so what? It’s a very relaxed place and that’s what we love about it.




Wine Bar at Solaire on Urbanspoon

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